This pay-per-view event is one that I’ve grown ambivalent towards in recent years. Since the WWE went full on rated PG some seven or eight years ago, it’s taken away from the believability of certain match types. It is difficult to buy into steel cage matches, especially Hell in a Cell and Extreme Rules matches, when no blood is allowed. When I say no blood is allowed, Vince McMahon once allegedly fined a superstar $100,000 for doing so. Did this year’s Extreme Rules bring back any sort of legitimacy to these match types?
THE USOS vs. KARL ANDERSON & LUKE GALLOWS (Tornado Tag Team Match): The match opened with the Usos taking to the air immediately to get their larger opponents off balance. Gallows was a tough opponent to get off of his feet, as he and Anderson powered their way back, isolating and getting the heat on Jimmy Uso. There were several double teams on the Usos. Anderson hurled Jey Uso into a devastating big boot by Gallows. The Usos looked to hit stereo splashes from the top rope, but Anderson knocked Jey down, distracting Jimmy enough to get pulled down by Gallows. Anderson followed up with a spinebuster that would make Arn Anderson proud. Anderson looked for a clothesline outside the ring, but ate a super kick by Jey Uso, who then hit a vicious hip attack to Anderson into the security barrier. Jey was taken out by Gallows, leaving Jimmy Uso to get double teamed. Anderson and Gallows nailed him with the Magic Killer, gaining these men a huge pay-per-view win early in their WWE tag team careers. WINNERS: KARL ANDERSON & LUKE GALLOWS
RUSEV vs. KALISTO (United States Championship): Kalisto opened the match up looking to carve the big tree-like Rusev down with several kicks to Rusev’s legs. This was barely felt by the Bulgarian Brute, who began to out power the Lucha Dragon. Rusev fought to slow down the pace of the match, locking Kalisto into an abdominal stretch. Kalisto made his way out of it and came back with a sleeper hold that Rusev powered out of and nearly got the pinfall. Kalisto picked up the pace with a flying tornado DDT. As Rusev was outside the ring, Kalisto nailed an amazing moonsault from the apron. Kalisto went for it again, but Rusev had it scouted and threw Kalisto off of the top rope to the apron. Rusev finally had Kalisto where he wanted him and locked in the Accolade. Kalisto tapped out, making Rusev the United States Champion once again. WINNER: RUSEV
THE VAUDEVILLAINS vs. THE NEW DAY (Tag Team Championship): WWE creative has not done the Vaudevillains any favors with their complete lack of any vignettes or promos leading up to them coming up from NXT. However, they’ve let their actions speak for them, looking dominant in several matches. Aiden English started off laying some heavy offense to Xavier Woods. English and Simon Gotch kept Woods in their corner for a bit, catching Woods with double forearms, double chops, you name it. Woods finally made the hot tag to Big E, who cleared the ring with clotheslines and a Belly-to-Booty suplex. He then went for that suicide dive that I’ve recommended he stop doing for a while, but English had it scouted and drilled him with a huge knee strike. Gotch & English then hit their finisher, the Whirling Dervish, but Woods somehow kicked out. Big E took English out and Kofi Kingston tripped up Gotch while the referee was distracted. This allowed Woods to pick up the quick pin. WINNERS: THE NEW DAY
CESARO vs. KEVIN OWENS vs. SAMI ZAYN vs. THE MIZ (Fatal Four Way for Intercontinental Championship): Sami Zayn opened up the match by drilling Owens with the Helluva Kick, garnering a huge pop from the crowd and successfully gaining heat on the feud between him and Owens. The remaining three competitors exchanged shots, with Cesaro and the Miz fighting outside the ring. Zayn delivered a splash from the ring to these men. After being down for a few minutes, Owens entered the match and unleashed offense on all three individuals. He then refocused on his former best friend, now bitter rival, Zayn. While attacking Zayn, Owens shouted that “we are destined to do this forever”, gaining even more heat. Every time Zayn tried to build momentum, Owens cut him off. Miz and Zayn looked for a double superplex. Cesaro got involved, delivering a powerbomb to all three men. Miz did a good job of playing the opportunistic cowardly heel, playing “clean up” whenever someone else hit a devastating move. Zayn attempted to deliver an exploder suplex to Miz. But Cesaro positioned himself to deliver a German suplex to Zayn and Miz simultaneously. Cesaro hit high impact offense on all three men. Then Owens did the same. Cesaro caught Miz with a big swing, then he locked Miz in the Sharpshooter. Maryse got involved, distracting the ref so he didn’t see Miz tapping out. Finding his moment to strike, the Miz got the quick pin and retained his championship. WINNER: THE MIZ
CHRIS JERICHO vs. DEAN AMBROSE (Asylum Match): This match had me intrigued as it’s quite a twist on a classic steel cage match, but with weapons suspended around the top of the cage. Ambrose wasted no time in trying to lay waste to Y2J, with a flurry of punches and raking Jericho’s face across the cage in the opening minute. Jericho tried to climb the cage to reach the weapons, but Ambrose cut him off each time. Both men went for the first weapon atop the cage…a mop. Ambrose got to it first and laid waste to Jericho with it. Jericho broke away and attempted to get the wooden 2 x 4 wrapped in barbed wire, but Ambrose cut him off. Jericho finally got to it, but Ambrose got to a pair of nunchuks, cutting off Jericho’s offense. Jericho got to a kendo stick and knocked Ambrose from high up on the cage. Jericho then got a leather strap and hellaciously whipped Ambrose with it. Jericho then attempted to put Ambrose in a straight jacket, but Ambrose got out of it and came back with rapid fire punches. The Lunatic Fringe then proceeded to climb the cage and hit Jericho with an elbow from the top of the cage. Jericho barely kicked out of this. Ambrose got a bucket from the top of the cage. Inside of it was a sack full of thumb tacks. As soon as Ambrose poured them out, Jericho had a look of utter panic and tried to bolt from the cage. Both men tried to hurl each other into the tacks, but failed. Jericho put Ambrose in the Walls of Jericho, but was broken when Ambrose reached a kendo stick and struck Y2J. He looked to do more damage, but Jericho blinded him by using a fire extinguisher. Jericho finally got some use out of the barbed wire 2 x 4 and struck Ambrose several times with it. He went for the Codebreaker to Ambrose, who then countered it by delivering a spinebuster onto the thumbtacks, followed up by Dirty Deeds, giving the egomaniacal Jericho a sound defeat. WINNER: DEAN AMBROSE
NATALYA vs. CHARLOTTE (Submission Match for the Women’s Championship): Natalya opened up the match with several headlock takedowns, looking to disorient Charlotte. Charlotte countered. Natalya then locked in a surfboard stretch, but Charlotte fought out of it. Charlotte then locked in a Figure Four, but Natalya made it to the ropes. Charlotte hit a beautiful moonsault, but before she could capitalize on it, Natalya locked in a Sharpshooter. However, Natalya got distracted when the music of Charlotte’s father, Nature Boy Ric Flair (who was banned from ringside) hit. This turned out to not be Ric Flair, but Dana Brooke in disguise. This allowed Charlotte to lock in the Figure Eight and pick up the victory. WINNER: CHARLOTTE
AJ STYLES vs. ROMAN REIGNS (WWE World Heavyweight Championship): Both men opened up with some good old fashioned technical wrestling, but the crowd let Reigns have it with a thunderous “You Can’t Wrestle” chant. Reigns attempted to wrap a steel chair around Styles’ back, but Styles kept staying one step ahead of Reigns. These men took the fight outside the ring, through the crowd and to the announcer’s booth for the kickoff show. AJ pulled the padding off of the security barrier and the floor, looking to end Roman Reigns, but Reigns recovered with a hard right hook. Styles then attempted to deliver a Styles Clash through the German announcers table, but Reigns countered. He then launched AJ high into the air and through the main announcers table. Reigns then proceeded to sling around Styles like a ragdoll, slamming him into the ring apron, into the security barrier and then powerbomb him through the Spanish announcers table. Reigns attempted to spear Styles through the security barrier, but AJ dodged at the last second, causing Reigns to nearly knock himself out. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Reigns caught him flush with a Superman Punch and knocked AJ off of the apron. Anderson and Gallows came down to the ring and laid waste to Reigns with the Boot of Doom. Styles went for the pin, but Reigns kicked out. Reigns’ cousins, the Usos then hit them all with super kicks and delivered a splash to Styles. Reigns couldn’t get the pinfall as Styles kicked out. AJ hit the Styles Clash, but Reigns somehow kicked out. He delivered another one onto a steel chair, but Jey Uso prevented the pin. Styles took of his elbow pad, looking for the Phenomenal Forearm. But Reigns caught him in mid-air with a Spear, picking up a hard fought victory. WINNER: ROMAN REIGNS, but a returned Seth Rollins came out and delivered a head splitting Pedigree to Reigns, letting everyone know that he wants back into the title hunt.
This will likely go down as in the top three pay-per-views of the year. Each match had the perfect psychology and pacing and successfully pushed many storylines forward or concluded them. What are your thoughts of Extreme Rules 2016?